In my work as a midwife, I spent a lot of time talking with moms-to-be about the postpartum period and encouraging them to slow down. Other cultures have strong traditions and rituals for that time but our US culture is pretty lacking in that area. We tend to pretend that having a baby is something you can calendar in and then once the baby is here, he or she will immediately be on a perfect schedule.
We all know how well that works.
One of the things I strongly recommended to moms is that they really take it easy during the first six weeks: Queen for three weeks, Princess for three more. Queens do nothing but feed the baby and sleep. And maybe shower. Princesses begin to do a bit more – read to the toddler, maybe put real clothes on. I frequently reminded them that although they may feel ok, great even, if they overdid it in the early days, they could stay depleted for weeks, taking much longer to move through the physical recovery part than they anticipated. If, however, they really allowed themselves to heal, recuperate, regenerate and find their new norm, then often found deeper wells of reserves at the 6-week mark.
(Caveat: this post is not speaking to or about postpartum mood disorders. If that’s been part of your experience, please get the additional support you need, for as long as you need.)
Even though I’m past the childbearing years, I’m needing to take my own advice as I recover from COVID. In spite of everyone age 12 and up being fully vaxxed, our entire household, except one, got COVID in July. (The one that didn’t had it in January.) No fun. At all.
For me, though, the recovery has been much slower than I’d like. I’m a mover and a shaker. I like to get things done and I like to work for good chunks of time on a single (big) project. I can’t do that right now.
My body is forcing me to slow down. I’ve worked up to being able to do one thing a day. If I try to do more, I have to spend the next day in bed, recovering. It is frustrating, but I’m working on changing my mindset. It’s an opportunity to learn to prioritize better. Or just differently. I can’t go hit 4 stores when I do errands. Right now, I can do one shopping trip in a week, and I can make it to one store.
COVID quarantine and its extended recovery are becoming a chance to let things go. It’s a time for me to be so grateful for how my body can literally regenerate. I’m more acutely grateful for the amount of work I’m typically able to do and for the times I don’t have brain fog. I’m grateful for normal smell and taste because lately, everything tastes like I’m licking nail polish. 0/10. Do not recommend.
I’m learning (relearning) that I don’t have to work on a project for six hours. I can do 30 minutes every other day and progress will still get made. Our six-year-old climbs up on the bed, just for snuggles. We rarely have a chance to do that in our normal schedule. I’ve even had a chance to binge-watch National Geographic documentaries without feeling (very) guilty.
One of the ways I describe approaching the immediate post-partum period is to think of it as a “babymoon,” focused on connecting as a family and letting the normal minutiae fall away for a bit. I think maybe I can let myself be in a COVIDmoon for a little longer. I hope I don’t become a “long-hauler,” but if I do, we’ll adjust to that too.
Now. What should I watch next??